People: UA92; Weightmans; Property Alliance Group; Click Consult; Back to the Garden Childcare

Prof Gary Pritchard

UA92, the higher education institution co-founded by the Manchester United Class of ‘92 and Lancaster University, has appointed Prof Gary Pritchard as chief academic officer.

Prof Pritchard joins Old Trafford-based UA92 following an extensive career in higher education, most recently in his role as Academic Pro Vice Chancellor at Ravensbourne University London. Previously, he held positions as Dean at the University of Wales, Founding Dean of Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design and Associate Dean at Newport School of Art, Media & Design.

In addition, Prof Pritchard undertook a one year industry sabbatical as Director of Talent at digital advertising agency, ForwardPMX, where he led on developing leadership and succession planning.

Prof Pritchard said: “I’m so pleased to be joining UA92 in its ambition to reach students of all backgrounds and build upon the fantastic work already undertaken to deliver high quality education which is underpinned by strong links to industry. I’m very much looking forward to working with the team to build upon UA92’s reputation to offer world class experiences which prepare and equip students for the world of work in every way possible.”

His extensive career experience includes overseeing the health and quality assurance of 20 international institutions affiliated to the University of Wales. At Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design, a Vogue branded private institution, he led the team from inception to launch, including setting the academic vision, curriculum writing, recruiting faculty members, liaising with industry and colleagues at Vogue Magazine and registering with the Office for Students.

Prof Pritchard is extremely passionate about developing talent, and his PhD focused on ‘Talent identification and Development in Students’. In recognition of his sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice, he was awarded Principal Fellow of the HEA, and he holds a professorial title in Transformational Education.

He succeeds Dr Robert Lauder at UA92, who has held the role of Interim Academic Officer alongside his duties at Lancaster University.

Sara Prowse, CEO of UA92, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Prof Pritchard to UA92. He adds a wealth of significant knowledge and experience to our senior academic team, who together are instrumental in shaping the way forward for our students to have the best future prospects possible. I know Prof Pritchard shares our determination to deliver an exceptional student experience and meaningful, career building education for all young people.

“I’d also like to thank Dr Lauder for his massive contribution, commitment, passion and hard work to build the academic function and steer the leadership of UA92. We will continue to work together regularly as he returns to his role at Lancaster University, which accredits our degrees.”


Liverpool-based national law firm Weightmans has appointed a dedicated ESG manager and general counsel, as it seeks to become a Top 30 law firm.

Weightmans has appointed James Holman as general counsel and to its board as strategic head of risk.

James Holman

James joined Weightmans in 1989, qualifying as a solicitor in 1992 before becoming a partner in 1997. He has nearly three decades of experience of personal indemnity claims and extensive experience of alternative dispute resolution.

He has spent the past 18 years in his role as head of compliance, managing a team of 20 and taking ultimate responsibility for data protection, audit, supplier management, compliance and anti-money laundering. Through his new additional position as general counsel, he will be better placed to advise the firm on potential risks and help to mitigate areas of concern for clients.

James said: “Following a successful four years leading the risk and compliance functions, I am looking forward to taking up this important new role as general counsel. Being on the board will ensure that risks are considered from the very beginning of strategic decision making and can help ensure both clients and our internal stakeholders have the most relevant advice. The position also mirrors that which a number of our clients have within their corporate structures, so this will allow us to more easily facilitate conversations with them and provide an even better service.”

Further to this, Abhay Srivastava, who ha

Abhay Srivastava

s more than 13 years’ experience, has joined Weightmans from Shell where he spent the past five years to help the firm better integrate environmental, social and governance factors into its operations.

During this time he worked both as an assurance manager within Shell’s real estate function, before taking a role with the Shell Foundation. His most recent role involved incubating new businesses, providing business and ESG impact strategy support to portfolio start-ups and driving policy improvement and advocacy projects. Prior to this, Abhay also held roles with Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages in India and IBM.

Abhay is a qualified engineer with a postgraduate degree in sustainability. His experience includes health, safety & environment management systems, sustainability reporting, ESG risk management and assurance/governance processes.

Abhay also serves on the board of directors for two early stage social businesses in sustainable fashion segment and healthcare, respectively.

He said: “The importance of ESG across all businesses and functions continues to grow, so in my new position with Weightmans I will be focusing on integrating these fundamentals into the company’s operating model and business strategy to lay the foundations for Weightmans to be an environmentally and socially conscious law firm. I will be working closely with internal stakeholders to ensure that we are providing the best resources and capabilities for our people, and most importantly our clients.”

These announcements follow the recent promotion of Stuart Whittle to chief innovation and technology officer.

John Schorah, managing partner, said: “These three new senior appointments highlight our continued commitment to excellence for our clients. Technology, ESG and risk are all cornerstones of a successful law practice, and we believe these new positions will help us to reach our ambitions of becoming a Top 30 law firm, while also helping to drive forward innovation in the sector as a whole. I would like to congratulate Abhay, James and Stuart on their new roles, and wish them every success in the future.”


Property Alliance Group has appointed Rodney Hunt as investment director.

With more than 20 years’ experience, Rodney will be responsible for identifying investment and development opportunities as well as securing funding partners for large scale projects.

Rodney joins from Epsilon Real Estate Partners, where he spent 10 years working across multiple sectors, specialising in office, industrial and residential in London and the North West. Heading up the Manchester office he acquired a portfolio of value-add office investments across the North West, including the Aeroworks building on Adair St which was recently sold for £9.2m.

Rodney Hunt

Alex Russell, managing director of Alliance, said: “Rodney’s expertise in the North West property market and extensive industry experience make him the perfect addition to the Alliance team.

“Over the past year, we’ve delivered large and significant schemes across Manchester and are now seeking to bolster our portfolio across all sectors. Rodney’s skills will help us to source sites, assets and partners that will enable us to build on our success and continue to deliver stand out developments across the region.”

Rodney said: “Joining Alliance is a fantastic opportunity to join a market leading, well funded business with plans for further growth. The team has a strong reputation for successfully redeveloping challenging sites. I’m looking forward to playing a part in further strengthening Alliance’s track record and adding to its development pipeline.”


Julie Sowa has been named new managing director of Cheshire agency Click Consult.

Having been with the agency for 11 years, she knows the business inside and out, but said that doesn’t mean she wants her tenure as MD to be a simple continuation of the status quo.

While the agency has continued to grow year-on-year as she oversaw the commercial arm of the business, Sowa believes she is stepping up at exactly the right time for Click to take a big leap forward. A hiring spree of top talent has taken place in her first few months at the helm.

Julie Sowa

For more than a decade, Sowa has built solid relationships with some of Europe’s largest and best known brands, which, she says, has allowed her to develop a thorough appreciation of how the search and digital marketing sector has changed. With this in mind, strengthening the organisation, with a focus on adding to the group of experts she inherited from former CEO Matthew Bullas, she feels is key to the agency’s continued success.

She said: “We continue to operate in a very competitive space and over the next 12 months, R&D will remain at the forefront. It is crucial that we can continue to deliver the most creative and dynamic strategies which realise the results that our clients need and expect.

“A key focus for this is on the talent at the agency. I know that by investing in the people we have, and new talent across the business, we can continue to stand out and grow both our clients and as an agency.”

Regarding the increase in the number of women leading agencies in the search and digital marketing space, she added: “Whilst it’s certainly positive to see women step into leading roles more frequently in our sector, it’s a trend that is far from its peak. I think it’s unquestionable that there is a lot of talent that has been poorly nurtured or overlooked elsewhere in the digital space and in business more broadly. That’s changing, but it also needs to be pushed.”


Back to the Garden Childcare, located in Broadheath, Altrincham, has appointed a new nursery manager, Ann Marie Ellison.

Ann Marie, from Bryn, near Ashton-in-Makerfield, has vast experience in the childcare sector, from nursery manager and regional manager for a several nurseries to NVQ trainer and assessor and Ofsted inspector.

Ann Marie Ellison

She joins Back to the Garden from Your Nursery, in Openshaw, a nursery she managed from the day it opened in 2010.

Ann Marie said: “I was attracted to Back to the Garden as we have the same ethos and beliefs, and the staff are as passionate as I am about childcare, wanting to provide the very best for the children who attend the nursery.

“It’s great to be part of the Back to the Garden team and I have already made a start on getting to know each and every child by listening to their interests and encouraging activities that really captivate them. I have also started to re-design each room in the nursery to ensure I achieve the unique setting desired for the children to learn through play.

Based in Altrincham and coming soon to Lymm, Back to the Garden is an innovative child-led day nursery that focuses on active learning through outdoor play in a garden setting.